Committee delays elimination

By Markos Moulitsas

The proposal to eliminate the master’s degree in journalism apparently has been stalled by the College of Liberal Arts and Science’s College Curriculum Committee.

Instead of voting to approve the recommendation, the committee first took no action, and then considered a motion that would have recommended the continuation of the program. In the end no vote was made concerning the program’s fate.

The proposed elimination stemmed from the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative. The M.A. in journalism had been a program NIU’s administration agreed to eliminate.

Committee member and associate Professor of Mathematics Purushottam Laud said the committee had the opportunity to act on eliminating the program and after much discussion, failed to do so.

During the same meeting the committee voted to approve the recommended eliminations of the M.A. programs in Russian and German. However, the committee chose not to act on the M.A. in journalism.

If the proposal had passed a committee vote it would have then moved up to the Graduate Council (GC) for consideration, but the committee’s failure to act ensured the proposal wouldn’t move forward.

Jerrold Zar, dean of the Graduate School and chair of the GC, said the council couldn’t review the proposal until it first passed through the curriculum committee.

“The way we act is we get the minutes from the curriculum committees. If there is anything in the meetings that concerns the Graduate School we discuss it,” Zar said. “I don’t see how we would review anything that wasn’t first passed by the curriculum committees.”

NIU Provost J. Carroll Moody said unless the recommended elimination was approved, it could cause problems for the university.

“It may put us in a very difficult position,” he said.

“We never presented the proposals to the College Curriculum Committees purely as a rubber stamp,” Moody added. “We hoped the (Academic Planning Council’s) academic rankings would be taken into account by the curriculum committee, not to say that they didn’t look at those numbers.”

Without approval of the committee, the proposal apparently is stalled at the campus level. However, action on it still could be taken by NIU’s governing board, the Board of Regents.

Moody said the curriculum committee doesn’t need to act on the proposal, since technically it is the Regents who have final authority in the elimination of programs. Still, he said, the university wasn’t considering the option of going to the Regents at the moment.

Moody said NIU President John La Tourette has to present NIU’s productivity report outlining what the university has done with its programs targeted for elimination to the IBHE next week, so he hoped there would be resolution to the problem beforehand.

Daniel Riffe, chair of the journalism department, was pleased by the committee’s non-action.

“I’m glad the committee raised questions about the procedures of the whole process, of how data has been collected and evaluated,” Riffe said. “I obviously want the program to have a chance to succeed.

“Whatever the outcome of the situation is, I’m glad the faculty had the chance to participate in the process,” Riffe said.